South Korea mulling tour programmes in North Korea: Report

South Korea mulling tour programmes in North Korea: Report

North Korea tourists South Korea
In this photo taken on August 1, 2017, tourists visit the Dora observatory overlooking the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea. (Photo: AFP/Ed Jones) 

SEOUL: South Korea's Culture Ministry said on Thursday (Jun 14) that it is looking into potential opportunities for South Korean tourism to North Korea, amid a thaw on the divided peninsula, reported Yonhap news agency. 

The announcement comes after the historic summit in Singapore between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.

During the summit, the leaders signed a joint document saying they would work together to build a "lasting and stable" peace regime on the Korean Peninsula - setting the stage for the resumption of inter-Korean economic cooperation. 

"We are reviewing various ways to see if there is anything to do in addition to tour programmes to Kaesong, Mount Kumgang and Mount Baekdu," said the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

A task force has also been created to prepare for the possible resumption of inter-Korean exchanges in sports, culture and tourism, reported the South Korean news agency. 

However the ministry said it would be difficult to provide a time frame given the need to inspect tour facilities in the North as well as to work out details with companies. 

Hyundai Asan, the inter-Korean business arm of Hyundai Group, previously operated a joint tour programme at Mount Kumgang, a scenic mountain resort on North Korea's east coast.

The tour programme, which launched in 1998, attracted more than 1.95 million visitors before it faced suspension in 2008 after a South Korean female tourist was shot dead near the resort. 

In the same year, South Korea also halted a separate tour programme to North Korea's western border city of Kaesong, said the report. 

The sprawling factory park in Kaesong, home to a stalled inter-Korean industrial complex, was shuttered in February 2016 to punish North Korea for its fourth nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch.

A task force has been also launched to prepare for possible tour programmes in the North by South Korean tourists, according to the Korea Tourism Organisation. 

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